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Public opposed to Russia hosting F1 on political grounds

  • Published on 26 Sep 2014 12:48
  • comments 1
  • By: Rob Veenstra
Just two weeks before F1 action kicks off at Sochi, the sport's decision to press ahead with the inaugural Russian grand prix remains highly controversial. Despite the Ukraine crisis, the MH17 atrocity and high tension between Vladimir Putin and the West, Bernie Ecclestone and the FIA are determined to staging round 16 of the 2014 world championship as scheduled.

Charlie Whiting has inspected and approved the newly-constructed Sochi Autodrom, and F1's official website now declares that it has been officially launched and opened. "I am glad to report that the first ever formula one race track in Russia has now officially opened and very soon our country will host the inaugural 2014 Russian grand prix at this amazing venue," said race promoter Sergey Vorobyev.

For their part, the teams are bound contractually to follow the lead of Ecclestone and the FIA. "We must rely on the governing body and the promoter to give us guidance," said Mercedes team boss Toto Wolff.

Public opinion, however, may be another matter entirely. The German news agency Sport-Informations-Dienst commissioned a poll that shows 71 per cent of those surveyed are opposed to Russia hosting formula one on political grounds. But the Russian deputy prime minister does not agree. "Sport is outside politics and this principle must be observed," Dmitry Kozak is quoted by the Itar Tass news agency. (GMM)

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  • My compliments to “F1TODAY” for having the stones to run this article and provide a forum for related comments. None of the other Internet “journals” appear willing to do that and risk annoying commercial interests which feed on F1.

    To be clear, I am not anti-Russian. I count many among my acquaintances and I know them to be decent folks who are just endeavoring to making their way the same as the rest of us. They are entitled to the fun and spectacles of sports of all kinds. However, they and their countrymen need every reminder that the rest of us can make about the ethical duties and moral challenges of 21st Century world citizenship. And their ambivalence is fair game whenever it ignores freedom curtailment, hardship and oppression purposefully visited by their KGB-retread national leaders on peaceful territorial neighbors, like the Ukraine. The despicable land-grab based on nonsensical “historical allegiances” vis-a-vis the Crimea and foment seeded throughout the eastern boundary lands deserve the strongest possible world rebuke. Throw in the murder of innocent airplane passengers by stupid partisans equipped with high-altitude ground-to-air rockets but no situational sense and the outrage quotient requires strong balancing measures.

    I haven’t done the math, but the 70%+ majority in favor of boycotting the Sochi GP looks similar to the plurality (of nations) which elected not to attend or participate in the 1980 Olympics after the soviet invasion of Afghanistan. So, what’s the difference? Well, Toto Wolff and others offer that it relates to team obligations to follow wherever the FIA leads: read, Bernie, the moral wizard decides for them. Or that this is about sports, not politics. But maybe it really relates to the 50,000 cars and vans that Mercedes sold in 2013 in Russia, an important export market for German vehicles – also French (Renault with almost 30% if the imported car market when combined with Nissan), and Italian (Fiat). Lord knows it can’t be about the appeal of $493-599 tickets to common Russians with average incomes of only $825/mo (June 2014) and excluding the almost 16m Russians/over 11 % with incomes less that $216/mo. Oh well, Sochi – which is a helluva long way from any large Russian population center - has a nice big harbor all set-up for the mega-yachts that Bernie and his ilk can use to traverse the Black Sea for one last warm weather bash. Enjoy your box seat, Putin, and the USA/EU economic and travel sanctions that I hope strangle you and your group of equally corrupt oligarchs. I won’t be watching.

    • + 0
    • Oct 1 2014 - 14:27

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